The head of a pre-military religious academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli said Wednesday he was cancelling his regular lessons and desisting from making statements on public issues, following the furor raised by his misogynist statements earlier this year.
Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, who had blasted military service for Orthodox women and made derogatory remarks about female soldiers and members of the LGBT community, said he was taking time off to study. The academy said in a statement that Rabbi Levinstein was taking a break from his regular lessons and that this has nothing to do with the defense minister’s demand that he resign. Levinstein will continue to head and teach at the academy, the statement said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had demanded Levinstein’s resignation and said that as long as he remained head of the Bnei David academy, the ministry would revoke its recognition of the yeshiva as a hesder yeshiva (a program combining military service with religious studies).
Sources at the academy said Levinstein will only cancel his regular classes, but continue teaching various religious subjects that are not connected to his “expertise” in religious youngsters’ coping with secular and Israeli views and reality.
Levinstein was roundly criticized for various statements against the army, female soldiers and gay and transgender people.
In a lecture to religious male students, broadcast by Channel 10 television, Levinstein said: “They’re driving our girls crazy. They draft them. They go in Jewish and they’re not Jewish when they come outTheir whole system of values becomes confused, their priorities – home, career. They’ll make them all crazy. We cannot agree to this.”
Of women who use camouflage paint, he said, “someone told me, don’t worry, they’re practicing using makeup for their wedding. I don’t know who would marry her.”
Last summer Levinstein blasted the army's egalitarian policy toward gay people and called them “perverts.”
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